WIGAN firefighters turned medical life-savers three times in a morning as they came to the aid of ambulance crews.
Paramedics turned to the town’s fire station for emergency back-up when getting calls to a trio of suspected heart attacks in one morning.
They were called out as part of a new initiative between the North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service launched last month in a bid to ensure that patients suffering from a cardiac arrest receive treatment as quickly as possible.
The scheme means that when a person dials 999 to report a suspected cardiac arrest – when the heart stops pumping blood around the body because of a fatal abnormal heart rhythm - NWAS will inform a fire crew stationed less than three miles away.
Both will respond and whoever reaches the casualty first will start providing life-saving treatment before ambulance crews can take over.
Once the patient is stabilised, they are then taken to hospital by ambulance.
Although NWAS was unable to provide any more details about Monday’s Wigan
incidents, the fire service confirmed that they had attended them in the Standish, Hindley and Worsley Mesnes areas but were unable to comment further.
A NWAS spokesman said: “The chances of survival from cardiac arrest diminish rapidly with every passing second so the sooner someone can receive treatment, the greater their chances are of leading a full and healthy life afterwards.
“Our partnership with GMFRS sees fire crews being paged by NWAS when a suspected cardiac arrest is reported within three miles of the fire station.
“The fire crews are sent at the same time as an ambulance so that they can commence potentially life-saving treatment should they arrive before the ambulance.
“This is an extremely positive scheme that will contribute to saving lives in Greater Manchester.”
The advantage to despatching fire crews is their ability to respond on blue lights therefore arriving more quickly to a situation where literally every second can mean the difference between life and death.
NWAS director of operations, Derek Cartwright, said: “Last year, the ambulance service responded to 5,486 incidents in Greater Manchester where the patient had suffered a cardiac arrest – sadly, despite everyone’s best efforts, not everyone survives but everyone deserves that chance and this is what this scheme will give people.
“I’d like to thank Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service for their commitment to this project and I am sure there will soon be many patients who will also be alive to thank them.
“I would urge everyone to learn basic life support skills as you never know when you too could help save a life.”